Tips for dealing with a pushy/overbearing aunt? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-26-2011, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a three year-old daughter who is very shy until she gets to know people- even family, but after three years of being around my oldest sister and my younger brother at least once a week for most of her life, DD still will not speak to them. My sister is pushy and bossy- that's just her. My parents and I have tried to tell her that the best way to get DD to come to her is to back off and give her space, but she keeps pushing DD to interact with her and then teases her, which is no way to get anywhere.  Does anyone have any ideas as to what I could say to her? (My brother isn't as bad.)


In addition, my sister adopted her best friend's two daughters after the friend's death from cancer. With her girls, she is very authoritarian, not to say nagging and strict. She also gripes at these girls and criticizes them in front of others. If my DD is naughty in public, she gets the stink eye from me and knows to check her actions. In serious cases, I take her to another room to talk about what she's doing. My sister doesn't "get" what I'm doing and barely restrains herself from criticizing me and my parenting style. I know she's going to say something someday and I'm going to have trouble staying calm when I react to her.


I come from a fairly large family that gets along most of the time but there has always been tension between me this sister and brother, mostly because they are both pushy, bossy, and more controlling than I am. I'm wondering if maybe DD can pick up my feelings towards them and that that's affecting her behavior toward them. Is that a reasonable idea or is it crazy talk?


I'm sure other people have had this same problem- can anyone offer advice? I can't change the fact that my sister stresses me out, but I do try to hide it and I've told DD over and over that her aunt loves her and just wants to play with her and be her friend. My sister takes DD's reluctance as rejection and takes it personally.


Any thoughts?


Thank you in advance!



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#2 of 6 Old 10-26-2011, 05:29 PM
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Truthfully, sometimes kids don't like people. redface.gif  My daughter had a very low tolerance for pushy people as well.  And she would immediately disengage, and then in repeat encounters wouldn't want to approach the person.


All I have been able to do (we have some similar issues with family) is to set up the situations for success.  I make sure she doesn't get left alone with the person she isn't comfortable with. I advocate for her a lot when she is feeling pressured. And we usually do activities or something that requires attention, so that it isn't the adults sitting around looking at the kids and focusing all the attention on them.


And as a last resort, I have told people - in public, in front of others - to back off they were making my kid uncomfortable. It's hard, but sometimes they just need the "hey, knock it off"



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#3 of 6 Old 10-26-2011, 06:43 PM
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That's a tough situation. My 5 yr old dd can be very shy around people and the more agressive they are, the more she retreats.  If there's ever a substitute in her classroom (both now in Kindy and before in preschool) she simply won't speak to them.  I was concerned enough to look up selective mutism but she doesn't have it.  At any rate, I try to brief her when I know people are coming over and remind her to say "hi" and answer their questions to be polite but if she gets overwhelmed I step in and speak up on her behalf.  People that take quiet children personally really need to get over themselves.

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#4 of 6 Old 10-27-2011, 08:47 AM - Thread Starter
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You're so right, Savannah! She really does need to get over herself. :)


When DD first started preschool, I was worried because the teacher told me she never said a word to anyone. That was in May and they say she's getting better...


Thanks for the comments.

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#5 of 6 Old 10-27-2011, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by emilysometimes View Post
My sister doesn't "get" what I'm doing and barely restrains herself from criticizing me and my parenting style. I know she's going to say something someday and I'm going to have trouble staying calm when I react to her.

I'd consider doing it preemptively when you are calm and not in "the moment".


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#6 of 6 Old 10-28-2011, 03:55 AM
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Sounds like a difficult situation. I'd second the idea of talking to your sister preemptively about your different parenting styles.


My mother is very pushy and bossy (and insecure) too. I've found that with her, it's helped to try and get a handle on why she's so pushy and bossy (In her case I think it has to do with her own early childhood). I asked her about it at times when she was relatively relaxed and willing to talk. That's helped me to understand where she's coming from, which has made my responses to her more reasonable than they would be otherwise.


The other thing that's helped has been to give her clear guidelines, in an unhumiliating way, much as one would with a toddler. I try to make it very clear what she should and shouldn't say to DD or me, using language like "I'd like DD to associate mealtimes with feeling relaxed and social" rather than "stop pushing food into DD's face! Get out of her space right now" (which is what I'd really like to say!) Generally my mother backs off when I express what I want in an unaccusing way, though that isn't to say that there aren't still problems between us. 


One crucial aspect of our relationship is that she's genuinely attached to DD (or at least, to the idea of being a grandmother) and so I have a very powerful "weapon" - if worst comes to worst I can ration the amount of time she gets to see DD. She knows that and it forces her to listen to me; otherwise I'm sure she wouldn't bother. But I don't know if that would translate to your situation. 

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